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pearl Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun a smooth lustrous round structure inside the shell of a clam or oyster; much valued as a jewel
  2. noun a shade of white the color of bleached bones
    ivory; off-white; bone.
  3. noun a shape that is spherical and small
    bead; drop.
    • he studied the shapes of low-viscosity drops
    • beads of sweat on his forehead
  4. verb gather pearls, from oysters in the ocean

Pearl noun
  1. A fringe or border. Obs. -- v. t. To fringe; to border. Obs. See Purl.
Pearl noun
OE. perle, F. perle, LL. perla, perula, probably fr. (assumed) L. pirulo, dim. of L. pirum a pear. See Pear, and cf. Purl to mantle.
  1. (Zoöl.) A shelly concretion, usually rounded, and having a brilliant luster, with varying tints, found in the mantle, or between the mantle and shell, of certain bivalve mollusks, especially in the pearl oysters and river mussels, and sometimes in certain univalves. It is usually due to a secretion of shelly substance around some irritating foreign particle. Its substance is the same as nacre, or mother-of-pearl. Pearls which are round, or nearly round, and of fine luster, are highly esteemed as jewels, and compare in value with the precious stones.
  2. Hence, figuratively, something resembling a pearl; something very precious.
    I see thee compassed with thy kingdom's pearl. Shak.
    And those pearls of dew she wears. Milton.
  3. Nacre, or mother-of-pearl.
  4. (Zoöl.) A fish allied to the turbot; the brill.
  5. (Zoöl.) A light-colored tern.
  6. (Zoöl.) One of the circle of tubercles which form the bur on a deer's antler.
  7. A whitish speck or film on the eye. Obs. Milton.
  8. A capsule of gelatin or similar substance containing some liquid for medicinal application, as ether.
  9. (Print.) A size of type, between agate and diamond. * This line is printed in the type called pearl.
Pearl adjective
  1. Of or pertaining to pearl or pearls; made of pearls, or of mother-of-pearl.
Pearl transitive verb
  1. To set or adorn with pearls, or with mother-of-pearl. Used also figuratively.
  2. To cause to resemble pearls; to make into small round grains; as, to pearl barley.
Pearl intransitive verb
  1. To resemble pearl or pearls.
  2. To give or hunt for pearls; as, to go pearling.

Webster 1913